Devin Hester has earned a reputation with the Chicago Bears as one of the best return men in NFL history, setting several team and NFL records. However, he is fighting to hold on to his job in Chicago, and if he doesn't, the Bears may part ways with the 30-year-old, per John Mullin of CSN Chicago.
New head coach Marc Trestman and his staff aren't handing Hester the job of Chicago's primary returner just because the veteran has established himself in the past. It's an open competition, with other players, including wide receiver Earl Bennett, getting in on the action. Hester doesn't provide much on offense, and if he isn't making his mark in the return game, there isn't much reason to retain his $1.85 million salary, especially when the Bears are just $1.77 million under the cap.
During the offseason, only the top 51 salaries count toward a team's cap, but once the season begins, all 53 will be counted, which means the Bears' cap space will get even tighter. Considering that, Chicago will likely be trying to save money wherever it can.
In 2010 and '11, Hester returned a combined five punts for touchdowns and averaged 16.7 yards per attempt. In the kickoff game, he averaged 25.6 yards per return with one score. His punt return numbers dropped off quite a bit in 2012, as Hester averaged 8.3 yards per attempt. What's worse is that he never found the end zone. On kickoffs, he still averaged 25.9 yards, but again, he failed to record a touchdown. For a guy that is being paid solely for his abilities to create big plays on special teams, the lack of scoring is a major concern.
It's hard to imagine the Chicago Bears without Hester fielding kicks, but if he fails to prove he's still a game-changer in training camp, it could be time to cope with that reality.